- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Golf is also a loner's game, so Faldo knew he could play it. For three months he practiced hitting balls into a long-jump pit before he was taken to a course. "Where am I supposed to hit it?" he asked.
"Over there," his instructor said, pointing to the 1st fairway. To Faldo, something that huge looked impossible to miss, and it pretty much has been ever since. He shot a 78, not counting the penalty strokes he should have taken for losing three balls ("I didn't know what losing a ball meant," he says). He three-putted one green and thought, Well, I'll never do that again.
He wanted to quit school at 16 to pursue golf—without a full-time job—and his parents said, "By all means." All it meant was scrimping a little bit more on their scrimpings. They had never owned a new car, and that old coat would last one more year, wouldn't it? This way Nick could practice from dawn until dusk, eat the supper Joyce fixed for him and then drag her out to the patio, where he would watch the reflection of his swing in the kitchen window while Joyce, half frozen in her car coat and scarf, would try to tell him exactly what the part with the little lines on it was doing while he took the club back. This she suffered gladly.
By the time Nick was 18, he was among the best amateurs in Britain. He turned pro at 19 and got married at 21 to a pretty journalist named Melanie Rockall. They were total opposites. "Turns out that total-opposites bit only works for Paula Abdul," says Nick.
Melanie loved to travel. He loved home and garden. She loved parties. He loved home and garden. She wanted to learn everything about the world. He still had to putt for two hours. "We were very happily married for eight months," says Nick. "Unfortunately, we were married for 4½ years."
Melanie's problem was that she was no good at being Joyce. She could not organize her life around Nick's. She got fed up with traveling the tours, being satellite to the planet Nick. "I played secretary, press officer, maid and good little housewife," she once said. "Somewhere along the line I started thinking, There must be more to life than this."
"What could I do?" says Nick, throwing up his hands. "Golf was all I had."
Soon their relationship was toast. He wanted out, but she wouldn't leave the house near London. Neither would he. "If I leave first, she'll get to keep it," he told himself. So he tried to wait her out—Nick-style, stoic and button-lipped. He didn't even tell his parents.
But for some reason he began to confide in a voice on the end of a telephone line. It belonged to Gill Bennett, secretary to his agent. One day she told Nick, "If you ever need to talk, I'll listen." They arranged a meeting, and he poured everything out to her.
"It was amazing," he says. "After five minutes, we were making plans about the future."